Accelerated ice discharge from the Antarctic Peninsula following the collapse of Larsen B ice shelf

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Abstract

[1] Interferometric synthetic-aperture radar data collected by ERS-1/2 and Radarsat-1 satellites show that Antarctic Peninsula glaciers sped up significantly following the collapse of Larsen B ice shelf in 2002. Hektoria, Green and Evans glaciers accelerated eightfold between 2000 and 2003 and decelerated moderately in 2003. Jorum and Crane glaciers accelerated twofold in early 2003 and threefold by the end of 2003. In contrast, Flask and Leppard glaciers, further south, did not accelerate as they are still buttressed by an ice shelf. The mass loss associated with the flow acceleration exceeds 27 km3 per year, and ice is thinning at rates of tens of meters per year. We attribute this abrupt evolution of the glaciers to the removal of the buttressing ice shelf. The magnitude of the glacier changes illustrates the importance of ice shelves on ice sheet mass balance and contribution to sea level change.

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